After days of relative (though not total) restraint on the topic of Alicia Machado, Donald Trump finally let loose with an angry, false tweetstorm attacking the former Miss Universe in the early hours of Friday morning.
And Hillary Clinton’s campaign is clearly over the moon about it.
On Friday morning, the Democratic nominee’s team sent out a series of tweets from Clinton’s account that were designed to respond to Trump and further hammer home their criticisms of him. (Note that these tweets are not signed “H,” so they are not Clinton’s own words, but rather that of her staff.)
This is...unhinged, even for Trump. A few notes. https://t.co/WURWs6aJ5f— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 30, 2016
What kind of man stays up all night to smear a woman with lies and conspiracy theories?— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 30, 2016
Alicia deserves praise for courageously standing up to Trump's attacks. And he has the gall to blame her—and say he "helped"?— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 30, 2016
When something gets under Donald's thin skin, he lashes out and can't let go. This is dangerous for a president.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 30, 2016
Trump obsessively bullies Rosie O'Donnell—an accomplished actor. He insulted Kim Kardashian for her weight—when she was pregnant. Pathetic.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 30, 2016
And there’s more.
Now, it’s long been evident that Clinton deliberately baited Trump into a trap by bringing up Machado’s claims that Trump denigrated her for her weight near the end of Monday’s debate.
There, Clinton seemed to be trying to create another version of Trump’s feud with the Khan family earlier this year, in which Trump wouldn’t be able to restrain himself from insulting a non-politician who criticized him.
But where the Khan controversy had special resonance with military families, the Clinton campaign is hoping to use Machado-gate to further tarnish Trump’s image among women and Hispanics (note that the controversy has been heavily covered in Spanish-language media), and to raise general concerns about his temperament among the electorate.
However, as the controversy simmered this week, some wondered whether the Clinton team had properly vetted Machado — particularly after old stories reemerged that she had been accused of being an accomplice to a murder and of threatening a judge’s life back in Venezuela. (She was never charged, but didn’t exactly deny the old allegations when they were brought up this week.)
But the Clinton campaign clearly isn’t all that worried about what’s in Alicia Machado’s past — instead, they think they think Trump’s temperament and sexism are the real stories here. They seem to love this controversy and want Trump to stay embroiled in this dispute as long as possible.